The best wireless earbuds afford you many of the same perks that an elite pair of wired or wireless headphones would, maybe even more. They free you of cables, letting you consume music on the go without being physically tethered to your portable devices: smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Even better, they pack lots of performance – great sound, call quality, and special features – into a compact design.
As the category continues to grow in popularity, so does the demand for wireless earbuds, especially with modern smartphones slowly doing away with the headphone jack. Le sigh. Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped tech staples like Sennheiser, Samsung, and even Apple from releasing stellar cordless buds. We’re also seeing other popular electronics brands such as Beats and Anker jump on the wireless earbuds’ bandwagon, releasing superior products that hold their own against the top dogs.
In compiling a list of the best wireless earbuds, we take many variables into account, from battery life to connectivity to design to sound. Other notable hallmarks such as mobile app support, setup, and special features are factored into the equation as well.
After testing the market’s top offerings, we’ve ranked the best wireless earbuds based on budget, performance, and style. Scroll down to see which ones best suit your listening needs.
What are the best wireless earbuds?
The Sony WF-1000XM4 currently stands as the best wireless earbuds. On top of excellent sound and noise cancellation, these buds pack an endless number of features to personalize performance. Battery life receives a generous boost for long-term listening on the go. Then there is the stylishly revamped design, which is a welcomed upgrade that looks striking and advertises a more stable fit. Responsive controls, Bluetooth 5.2, and wireless charging round out this beauty.
Coming in a close second on our best wireless earbuds list is the Apple AirPods Pro due to their enhanced fit, seamless iOS/MacOS functionality, and surprisingly good active noise cancellation. We’ve found these cordless danglers to be the ideal companion for all Apple devices. They also work with Android and Windows devices via Bluetooth, though the setup process can be a bit arduous. And if you want the premium features of the AirPods Pro at a cheaper price without the ANC, check out the AirPods 3.
In third place on our best wireless earbuds list is the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. These buds blend excellent sound and powerful noise cancellation into a clean, premium design. Several new customization tools enhance this threequel, including Sound Check which tailors audio to your hearing, and Sound Zones to optimize the EQ to your environment.
Anker’s latest wireless earbuds – the Space A40 – offer flagship specs for a reasonable price. LDAC codec support and Hi-Res audio certification results in balanced, depth-filled sound. ANC exceeds the product’s MSRP, and the transparent mode is one the category’s best. Expect great battery life as well at 8 to 10 hours per charge and up to 50 hours via charging case.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds come in fourth place with their unbeatable noise cancellation and great sound. As mentioned in our review, Bose “managed to gather all of the winning qualities of its flagship headphones, shrink them down, and put them in a pair of truly wireless earbuds.” The design and control scheme are also major improvements from what was delivered on the company’s last truly wireless model, the SoundSport Free.
Whether you’re a business traveler who requires complete silence in flight or just an avid music lover who wants amazing sound in a tinier form, there’s a model on our list of best wireless earbuds tailored to your ears.
Scroll down to see our ranking of the best wireless earbuds money can buy!
The best wireless earbuds you can buy today
Here is the first audio product to earn a perfect score from the Laptop Magazine team: the Sony WF-1000XM4. The imperfections of its predecessors have been improved on, starting with the fancy new redesign that is aesthetically pleasing. Sony’s sound profile has been enhanced to produce vibrant, full-bodied sound, and it’s even taken up a notch with 360 Reality Audio for immersive spatial audio. The all-new V1 chip improves active noise cancellation without producing any uncomfortable pressure or introducing any white noise into the mix. Up to 8 hours of ANC playback is some of the highest out there, and nothing tops the Sony Connect Headphones app when it comes to extra features.
Our only complaints are that the buds don’t come with a Find My Buds function, something Sony should be able to add via software update, and the unstable fit provided by the memory foam tips. Other than that, the WF-1000XM4 is as close to perfect as you’re going to get in the category.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review.
Apple made almost every change necessary to make the AirPods Pro the best wireless earbuds that money can buy. Fans wanted active noise cancellation and got just that, which is superbly effective, thanks to Apple’s multi-mic system that uses two mics on each bud to analyze ambient sound and cancels it out before reaching the soundstage. The technology is intuitive and blocks out about 85% of street noise.
The included ear tips also make a world of difference in fit and sound. They create a comfy, tight seal around the canal that ensures the Pods don’t slip out when rushing to catch the bus. Gym rats and gamers who sweat profusely no longer have to worry about damaging their buds either, as Apple made the AirPods Pro water and sweat resistant. It’s this personalized fit, along with Apple’s all-new Adaptive EQ, that also makes music sound fuller. Not to mention Apple has introduced an all-new spatial audio feature in iOS 14 that helps create a 3D soundscape for listeners.
Read our full Apple AirPods Pro review.
Replacing the Momentum True Wireless 2 on our best wireless earbuds list is its successor. This threequel improves on the previous version in several ways, starting with the revamped design that looks sleeker and produces better touch accuracy for tap inputs. Sound has been given a boost, thanks to cool customization tools like Sound Check that tailors audio to your hearing. Noise cancellation might be the biggest upgrade. Sennheiser’s technology automatically adjusts to your surroundings and reduces ambient noise at the same level as the Sony WF-1000XM4; it’s fantastic for blocking out high-pitched sounds.
Call quality takes a dip this time around, and Sennheiser still refuses to add a Find My Buds function for locating misplaced buds. Maybe a software update could fix these issues, though neither takes away from the Momentum True Wireless 3’s greatness.
Read our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review.
The Anker Soundcore Space A40 earbuds have a key mission with its mid range price — bring stellar sound and noise cancellation to an affordable price point.
And with the company’s signature silk drivers, Hi-Res audio certification and AI-driven ANC, these tick all the right boxes on paper and in real-world use. The ANC is amongst some of the strongest I’ve ever used, the sound is fantastic and with up to 10 hours listening time on one charge, the battery life is stellar too.
They’re not perfect, with some finicky touch control inputs, but for the $99 price, these offer awesome value for money with a build and sound quality that is far beyond its price.
Read our full Soundcore Space A40 review.
Bose did the unexpected, which was take the excellent active noise cancellation of the Bose 700 and carry it over onto the all-new QuietComfort Earbuds. Nothing short of an engineering feat, this model blocks out a vast amount of ambient sound and does so with half the mics of its over-the-ear brethren. This same mic array is what allows for fantastic call quality and digital assistant use across all platforms as well. Even more impressive is how the buds manage to blend both ANC and Transparency modes, allowing you to hear ambient sounds more clearly for improved awareness. Bose’s Active EQ technology and proprietary drivers also give these buds a sound curve similar to the 700, resulting in warm, relatively balanced audio.
Our one gripe about the QuietComfort Earbuds is battery life, which could be longer. The massive charging case doesn’t hold as much portable power either in comparison to other models, plus it’s huge and cumbersome to carry around.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.
We already know what you’re thinking: isn’t $400 a bit expensive for wireless earbuds? Answer: Yes. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone with the funds from owning these stunners. B&W spared no expense to give its flagship buds the best audio representation, from Dual Hybrid Drive units with individual amplifiers to aptX Adaptive codec support. What you get is best-in-class sound that is even better when streaming music on hi-res platforms like Qobuz and Tidal. However, it’s the charging case that steals the show, doubling as a wireless adapter that can plug into any audio jack and retransmit audio to the buds. Oh yea, noise cancellation is only second to the QuietComfort Earbuds too.
There are some common features missing (sleep mode, Find My Buds), plus the steep price point should grant you more functionality like multipoint technology or even an EQ. Then again, no one said excellent sound and noise cancellation that is only second to the QuietComfort Earbuds would come cheap.
If you’re a Galaxy smartphone owner and need to upgrade your wireless earbuds, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro should be at the top of your list. Samsung users receive sweet perks such as one-tap Easy Pair, reverse wireless charging (PowerShare), and 24-bit Hi-Res Audio when streaming music on compatible platforms (e.g., Tidal, Deezer). Features like Auto Switch also make switching between iOS, Windows, and other Android devices a breeze. ANC is the strongest it’s ever been in the Galaxy Buds series and surpasses the AirPods Pro. We’re also fans of Samsung’s 360 Audio feature that creates convincing 3D sound when indulging in movies.
We felt that Samsung could have prioritized battery life more because 5 hours of ANC playtime isn’t acceptable, especially when lower-priced models offer double this playtime. More effort could have gone into refining Bixby as well.
Sennheiser suffered a loss when engineer Axel Grell left to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. By that we mean starting his own audio company. Grell’s first creation is the TWS/1, noise-cancelling wireless earbuds that sonically outperform Sennheiser’s flagship Momentum True Wireless models. At $299, they don’t come cheap, but that money is well spent on elite audio. Underneath the hood lies 10.1mm high-precision custom dynamic drivers with SoundID integration for personalized audio and aptX Adaptive codec support, which produces hi-res streaming on compatible devices. Noise cancellation is just as impressive and works adaptively to remove external sounds in your environment for peaceful listening.
Grell could have focused more on refining the call quality and touch controls, but no model on this list is perfect.
Apple knew they had to come correct with the AirPods 3 and give it most of the same features found on the AirPods Pro. Well, they did just that, and even introduced new features to give this third-gen version more appeal. Adaptive EQ and Spatial Audio come part of the package, resulting in a more detailed soundstage, along with immersive, 3D-like audio output. Skin-detection sensors provide accurate auto-pause/play operation, plus the Force Sensor controls and “Hey Siri” voice integration work flawlessly. Furthermore, Apple increased battery life on the AirPods 3, extending it to 6 hours on a single charge and 30 hours in total via MagSafe charging case.
The new ergonomic design does provide a better fit, but no ear tips mean the buds have a higher risk of falling out, which they’ll do often when moving fast on foot. No ANC or ambient listening is disappointing as well. Nonetheless, if you value sound quality and functionality, and want similar performance to the AirPods Pro minus some exclusive features, you’ll find it in this less expensive alternative.
See our full Apple AirPods 3 review.
Fans of Beyerdynamic will appreciate what the Free Byrd brings to the true wireless space. No expense was spared on features, with the legacy audio brand adding active noise cancellation, customizable sound, Qualcomm aptX Adaptive codec support, and Alexa integration to the spec sheet. The 10mm drivers combined with Beyerdynamic’s EQ and Mimi Sound Personalization deliver accurate, wide sound, while aptX support guarantees hi-res audio streaming on compatible services (e.g., Tidal, Deezer). Noise cancellation is more impressive, shutting out most noises across the frequency spectrum.
The thick design isn’t for everyone and there’s a legitimate complaint to be made about the Free Byrd’s reliance on third-party software to achieve optimal sound. But your view will change once hearing these bad boys in action.
Read our full Beyerdynamic Free Byrd review.
The WF-1000XM4 currently stands as Sony’s top true wireless model, but the LinkBuds S doesn’t fall far behind. These mid-rangers are shockingly great and pack some mean audio specs, including Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) Extreme, LDAC codec support, and 360 Reality Audio for immersive listening. Speaking of which, music and movies sound superb on these buds, and sound is customizable via the Sony Connect Headphones app. ANC is better than what you would usually find on most sub-$200 rivals. The 20-level ambient listening mode comes in handy for increasing environmental awareness.
Sure, they lack the ultramodern appearance of the original LinkBuds, but they also crush their predecessor in every other category.
Read our full Sony LinkBuds S review.
Google’s first-ever noise-cancelling earbuds are a success, powered by a custom 6-core audio chip that keeps ANC effective without compromising sound. The Pixel Buds Pro put a muzzle on most ambient noise and excels in gusty conditions, thanks to wind-blocking mesh covers that safeguard the mics. Audio is balanced and rich, and Google offers features like Volume EQ (increases bass/treble when listening at low volume) and spatial audio (available this fall) to enhance sound quality. These buds also come with the best Google integration of any wireless earbuds out there; Google Assistant and Translate operate flawlessly.
Fit can be a concern for those who are constantly on the move since the buds slip out occasionally. It wouldn’t have hurt Google to include a USB-C charging cable with the purchase either.
Read our full Google Pixel Buds Pro review.
The CX True Wireless was Sennheiser’s attempt at a budget alternative for their flagship Momentum True Wireless 2 wireless earbuds. It was a huge failure. Learning from past mistakes, the German audio staple went to work on an updated version, which they labeled the CX Plus, and fixed the major issues plaguing the original. They included ANC this time around, a feature that works decently to minimize ambient noise. The CX Plus also benefits from a more neutral sound profile and improved call quality.
Not all issues from the previous model were fixed. For instance, the bulky design continues to be a comfort nuisance. The lack of other mainstream features like a Find My Earbuds mode and wireless charging keep the CX Plus below the market’s top performers. Still, Sennheiser has proven they can create mid-range wireless earbuds that deliver Sennheiser sound.
Read our full Sennheiser CX Plus review.
How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you
Battery life is most crucial when searching for the best wireless earbuds. Most models offer 4 to 8 hours on a single charge. Make sure the buds come bundled with a charging case too, so to keep them charged and stowed away during commutes. Charging cases can provide multiple charges and hold anywhere between 12 to 40+ hours of additional playtime.
Design is just as important. Ideally, you want a pair of buds that offer personalized fit and comfort, along with multiple ear tips to accommodate different ear shapes. Durability and water-resistant protection shouldn’t be overlooked either.
Next up is audio, which applies to all media formats (e.g. music, videos, games) and phone calls. Explore models with powerful drivers and customization settings that allow you to tweak sound profiles to your liking.
Let’s not forget wireless functionality. Many wireless earbuds come programmed with Bluetooth 5.0, which gives users faster connectivity, increased range (est. 120 meters max), longer battery life, and multipoint pairing to connect to two audio sources simultaneously. Digital assistant support (Siri, Google, and Alexa) falls under this section as well.
We’re seeing more wireless earbuds boast advanced features like an adaptive EQ and active noise cancellation. These are features well worth spending on extra on, if engineered properly, and will be more common as the category evolves.
How we test the best wireless earbuds
When testing for the best wireless earbuds, Laptop Magazine evaluates several factors: design, comfort, sound, and value just to name a few. Our reviewers also compare these models to similar products in the category in terms of features, fit, and pricing.
Wireless earbuds are worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. During this period, we assess comfort, ease of use, and audio quality. We listen to several sample tracks across a number of music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, and classical, while analyzing clarity, depth, and volume. Audiobooks, games, podcasts, and videos are also taken into consideration.
Our reviewers also test battery life, Bluetooth range, digital assistant support, ease of setup, and any app-enabled features compatible with laptops, desktops, and all portable devices like smartphones and tablets.
Furthermore, we test streaming music services that offer hi-res audio. To learn more about how these services can improve the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, here is an expert audio codec FAQ on everything you should know about FLAC files, MP3s and all other audio file codecs.
Once our testing is completed, every model is rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.